Fredericksburg, VA asked in Criminal Law for Virginia

Q: Can a judge during jury instruction tell the jury that previous witness statements that contradict the testimony during

Trial can not be taken into consideration? That the jury can not consider if a witness is truthful be entered into their decision? They may only go with what was spoken at trial?

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1 Lawyer Answer
David G. Parker
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  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Richmond, VA
  • Licensed in Virginia

A: Standard (commonly referred to as "model") jury instructions are typically used in criminal jury trials in Virginia. In my experience, the model jury instruction covering inconsistent prior statements of a witness will advise the jury that the purpose of any prior statement of the witness that is inconsistent with the witness's testimony at trial is to reflect on that witness's credibility. It is not necessarily evidence that what the witness said before trial is true. The jury has discretion to believe or disbelieve a witness's testimony at trial. Also, if the witness's alleged previous statements were deemed inadmissible by the judge then the jury should not consider them in weighing the witness's credibility.

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